Creature Discomforts…

One of the benefits of living in the country is seeing a variety of wild animals and birds on a regular basis.  On occasion, members of our family have close encounters with these creatures, which aren’t always fun…

Jake is our schnoodle (miniature schnauzer/miniature poodle).  This fifteen lbs. of curly-haired energy adores flying around our fenced back yard as fast as his little legs can go!  He is also the biggest suck ever, needing to have his head on your chest right under your chin no matter what else you’re trying to accomplish!  Unfortunately, he sometimes gets into trouble…

Jake at full gallop...photo taken by Jim

Last winter, we noticed that a porcupine was (literally) hanging out in our back yard.  We dubbed him “Mr. Prickles.”  He would sit in a tree all day, gorging himself on bark, even during a raging snowstorm.  When he got tired, he would inch backward, ever so carefully, down the tree trunk, and amble over to the next tree, climb up, and repeat the above process.  On his journey between the trees, he would leave little presents on the ground, which Jake assumed were meant to be his dessert!  Ewww!

Mr. Prickles Eating Lunch...photo taken by Jim

Last summer, I let Jake out the back door, making sure the Mr. Prickles was nowhere in sight…I should have gone outside and checked over the little hill at the bottom of the yard!  Jake wasted no time heading straight for the intruder, barking wildly and circling the thorny creature.  By the time I had my shoes on, Jake had managed to get his small mouth around some of Mr. Prickles’ rear end, and ended up with a snoutful of quills!  While Mr. Prickles made his unhurried way towards the fence (which has holes big enough for him to squeeze through), I scooped up our dog and took him in the house to survey the damage.

I removed 19 quills of varying sizes from Jake’s mouth and nose…he was a trooper…he’s used to Jim grooming him, and he didn’t even flinch, even when I had to  use needle-nose pliers to pull some of the more stubborn ones (I found out later about cutting the ends off the quills to release the pressure).  There was one quill that I just couldn’t get, so I asked Jim to tackle that one after he got home.  Luckily, Jim was able to remove that one, and found another one which had worked its way in through Jake’s cheek and back out again!  Jim washed Jake’s face with peroxide, and we watched carefully over the next couple of weeks for any signs of infection.

It never occurred to me to take Jake to the vet…all I could think about was getting the things out of his face!  A friend of Jim’s told us she had spent more than $3500 at the vet’s with her two big dogs and porcupine quills!  Later, my snowplow guy told me about some woman at his camp who had been turned in to the Humane Society because she had taken quills out of her own dog!  That seems ridiculous to me!

After that, we made sure that Jake went out on the leash.  This winter, while there was snow on our back deck, we would just let him out there (leaving the gate closed). 

One day in February, the kids decided it would be a good idea to let Jake run around the back yard again…we hadn’t seen Mr. Prickles for several weeks.  Down the steps he went…and stopped in his tracks, sniffing at something under the steps.  “Mom!  The porcupine’s dead under our back step!” reported Anna. 

I said (a la Monty Python): “Maybe he’s not really dead…maybe he’s just restin’.”  I put on my boots, trudged down the steps, and poked Mr. Prickles gingerly with my toe.  He didn’t move.  Luckily, he didn’t stink either…it was still cold enough for his body to be frozen.

Jim came home from work, and I reported the sad news of Mr. Prickles’ demise.  “Did you do anything with him?” he asked.

“No…I don’t do dead bodies!  That’s your job!” I replied.  So Jim went out with a shovel, and heaved Mr. Prickles’ earthly remains over the fence into the woods.

A couple of weeks later, we noticed a couple of buzzards circling overhead…Dad said, “There must be something dead around here…” 

RIP Mr. Prickles…

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Creature Discomforts…

  1. That’s a fun story Wendy, except for poor Jake of course!! And I learnt something…didn’t know porcupines climbed trees! So it just died from the cold then? Sad.

    I thought I saw one once in Bhopal (which is a city in central India in the state of Madhya Pradesh), but I didn’t get a good look. A large shape just walked across the backyard of the house where we were staying…might have been a badger!

    My most thrilling wildlife experience was visiting Kaziranga national Park in Northeast India which is a Rhino sanctuary. I had my first elephant ride there and heard a tiger roar!! Loved it!

    Hugs, H.

    • The funniest thing about porcupines climbing trees is watching them come down, ever so carefully, backwards! I don’t really know what killed Mr. Prickles…he might have died of old age! I’ve never ridden an elephant, but my oldest daughter did at a circus once…I made her father go with her! Hugs, Wendy

  2. Wendy, great story. Poor Mr. Prickles. We don’t have porcupines in our neck of the woods. I’d love to see one.

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